If University Students Do Paid Work During Their Studies, Does It Increase Their Internal Locus of Control?


Should students work during university? Work may hinder time for studies, but could also provide income and build important life skills, especially important for students from more disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. This paper examines whether working during university improves students’ locus of control – the belief in one’s own ability to have control over their life events. Using longitudinal data on a cohort of English students born in 1990/91, I model students’ locus of control production at age 20/21 according to their employment status and work hours during term-time and vacation. I find that students who engage in term-time work increase their internal locus of control by 0.12 standard deviations, significant at the 5% level. My estimates hold when including university subject fixed effects to account for simultaneity between locus of control and subject choice. Students who engage in vacation work are 0.07 standard deviations more internal than students who do not work, but the estimate is statistically insignificant. I do not find evidence that increased hours of work significantly increases students’ locus of control. In summary, students participation in paid work increases their internal locus of control, supporting the human capital theory that work improves students’ skills.

Author Information
Grace Chang, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2021
Stream: Mind

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon